All that glitters... is almost gold
FEW people in the world will ever get to look at, let alone hear, ride or even own an MV Agusta Series Oro. Only 50 of the magnesium-laced " gold " series bikes have ever been built. All of them are now in the hands of people like F1 driver Eddie Irvine, Cagiva president Claudio Castiglioni and some of his very rich and influential friends.
The rest of us are left lusting after the slightly less exotic F4S which is, for the most part, highly satisfactory. It is, after all, a very desirable bike in its own right – the kind many of us would be tempted to trade in the kids for.
But for some people it isn’t enough. These are the people who are still walking around like stunned bunnies after being caught in the initial glare of the Series Oro. Parts manufacturer Casoli Moto is now coming to the rescue. It has taken the standard F4S and upgraded it with a series of changes to the suspension, engine, wheels, footrests, pipes and bolt-on parts.
The result is a bike that is as near as they come to that elusive Series Oro. Perhaps, and only perhaps, mind, you could argue it goes a step farther than the original hand-built, limited-edition machine.
One of its obvious advantages is that you can have one of these. Another is that you can have it for considerably less than the price you would have to pay should a Series Oro ever make it into the pages of MCN Bikemart. OK, there will be those who consider the blue anodising a bit cheesy. But at a total price of around £17,000, it is £8000 less than the Series Oro.
Aside from the anodising, the Casoli Moto bike has reworked Ohlins front fork internals, powder-coated wheels, a race-style suede seat, titanium-look silencers, new rearsets, carbon-fibre bodywork, a race-style enclosed undertray which acts as an oil catch tank should the worst happen, a race-style filler cap, a race-kit Brembo master cylinder and a new chip to ensure perfect fuelling with the race silencers on board.
Now, I’m not suggesting that this is the bargain of the century. Many of us would get all the motorcycling joy it’s possible to find from a £8500 R1. So why would you want to lash out £17,000?
The people who tend to buy these are the kind of people who want to stand out and are willing to pay through the nose for that – or who are so wedged-up they already have an R1. Probably a big tourer, too. This will just look nice in the garage and impress the hell out of the Brands Hatch car park when you roll it out every now and again.
But while If I Was A Rich Man strikes up at the back of your head, at least hop aboard with us for a spin and experience for yourself what it would be like.
First, you have to fight off the crowds surrounding the gleaming red and silver bike when you get it out of the garage, insert the gold MV-badged key in the 916-style ignition in the tank cut-out and turn for action.
The rev-counter makes its dash for the red line, the warning lights flash and the speedo smiles at you with 200mph flashing up before disappearing back to zero. All systems go. Find the delicate sliding fast idle lever mounted on the throttle and turn it to choke, push the starter button and be prepared to be amazed as the bike parps into life.
The tuning work to the motor means there’s a strange tickover. It doesn’t sound very menacing at first as its sits idling unevenly. But once it’s up to temperature and you’re on the move the noise is close to orgasmic (do not tell the wife).
The induction roar takes hold. Each movement of the throttle is lavished with a bellowing roar from the four machine gun pipes. You let it go on the over-run just to hear it pop and bang as the revs fall again.
It begs you to rev it and watch the revs climbing, eventually culminating in the rev-counter shift light flashing its red warning and urging you to feed in the power again. On-the-boil, the modded motor is stronger than a GSX-R750 with a lot more grunt. We weren’t allowed to dyno the bike, but I reckon it must be up around 10bhp.
The power builds from around 5000rpm, picks up again around 8000rpm and goes ballistic at 10,000 revs. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like a four-cylinder bike, more like an F1 car with some cylinders missing. It’s not ridiculously fast, but whatever speed you do, the sound ringing from the race cans makes it feel twice what the speedo shows.
That’s nothing to do with the excellent chassis. Both the original front Showa and rear Sachs suspension have been chopped in for Ohlins forks with revised internals and an Ohlins rear shock. Unfortunately, straight out of the crate like it was on the bike we had to test, it wasn’t quite right. But if you’re used to comparatively sloppy Japanese bike, you won’t be disappointed with the handling. It turns like a 996, slow but totally accurate, and the front end feels great mid-corner. But once on the power the rear feels a bit sloppy.
Get on the power too hard and you’ll be glad of the aftermarket Ohlins steering damper and a couple of clicks to keep it all in line. Not that there’s anything wrong with the rear shock you understand, it just needs more time than we were allowed with this rare beauty.
Only a real MV Agusta bore, if there is such a thing, would notice all the changes this bike has been through. Even so, it’s a bike that makes anyone – and I mean anyone – stop in their tracks and stare.
If that’s the kind of attention you crave, then you will consider this the best £17,000 you ever spent.
F4 CASOLI MOTO
Availability: Casoli Moto: 0208-440-4141
Colours: Red/silver, silver
Engine: Liquid cooled, 749cc (73.8mm x 43.8mm) 16v dohc four-stroke in-line four. Fuel injection. 6 gears
Chassis: Steel trellis frame with alloy pivot plates for swingarm
Front suspension: Ohlins 49mm inverted forks, adjustments for pre-load, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Ohlins single shock with rising rate linkage, adjustments for ride height, pre-load, compression and rebound damping
Tyres: Pirelli Dragon Evo Corsa; 120/65 x 17 front, 190/50 x 17 rear
Brakes: Nissin; 2 x 310mm front discs with 6-piston calipers, 210mm rear disc with 4-piston caliper, Brembo master cylinder
Power (est): 134bhp@12,500rpm
Torque (est): 60ftlb@10,500rpm
Weight/power to weight ratio: 192kg (422lb), 0.70bhp/kg
Top speed (est): 175mph
Geometry (Rake/trail/wheelbase): 24.5°, 10.4cm, 139.8cm
Average mpg/tank capacity/range: 36mpg, 20 litres, 160 miles